Bathing

It is important to allow your birds the opportunity to bathe, though it’s not something you need to force (unless it’s super hot). During those hot summer months it is very important to keep your birds cool. Each species usually has its own preferences when it comes to bathing, and birds from humid climates may do things differently than those from arid regions. Keep in mind that the rainy season signals breeding in some species, and excessive bathing may trigger hormonal behaviors.

Spray Misting

Some birds will run away from the spray in terror while others will flip upside-down and spread their wings in joy. Cockatiels are mist bathers, even if some of them don’t know it. During the summer I mist my flight tiels and most of them enjoy it. One of the ways to get a bird interested in spray baths is not to directly hit them with the spray. Try aiming off to the side, perhaps at another bird. Many tiels get into bathing mode when just a little bit of the mist from the spray next to them floats over. Amazons and other South American species also enjoy this type of bathing. When misting try not to hit the bird in the face or directly unless they are really getting into the pleasure of the bath. Instead spray just above them so that the mist falls down on their back.

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Cockatiels enjoy spray misting.

Share a Shower

You can put your bird up on the shower curtain rod (just make sure a towel or something is up there so they don’t slip), or buy a shower perch. Many birds really enjoy showering with their owners.

Dish Bathing

Offering a wide, flat dish with water is a great way to encourage bathing, especially if you don’t have time to mist your bird or let them share a shower. Many pets will try to squeeze into their water dish. This is one of the reasons why I dislike water bottles (always provide a bowl of water in addition to a bottle). If your bird is already trying to bath in its water dish it’s just one easy step for you to provide a larger bathing bowl. Some birds are hesitant about bathing in a bowl. I found that playing in the water with your hand or letting a constant stream of water from the sink trickle in helps. I got my greencheek conure to bath in a bowl I’d hold over the sink or in the sink itself. She always wanted the water running.

One thing you’ll notice is that dish bathers tend to be a bit more nervous about their baths. In the wild this type of bathing is dangerous because pools are great area for predators to catch their prey off-guard. Wet birds also can’t fly as well. Cages are considered by most birds to be “safe” areas so this nervousness usually only occurs when a bird is asked to bath somewhere away from the cage. Reassure your bird by talking to it, playing some soft music in the background or playing in the water yourself. Never leave a dish bather alone during a bath- you are their lookout for predators. Leaving can give them a fright and shatter their willingness to take baths in the future.

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A budgie bathing in wet parsley.

Leaf Bathing

This type of bathing is unique to some Australian parakeets, like budgies. Budgies will actually take wet leaves and roll around on them and wrap themselves up in them. You can sometimes mist them while they are doing this or get them to leaf bath by misting first. Provide large, wet lettuce leaves.

© 1997-2016 by Karen Trinkaus. May not be reprinted or used in any way without the author’s permission.